TRINITY - As if she was striding down the 18th fairway with a three-shot lead and less that a foot for birdie, Wesley Chapel's T.J. Adipietro was all smiles and couldn't help but clap late Thursday evening in the Heritage Springs Country Club parking lot.
After three years of dejection, disappointment and one disqualification that lit a dangerous fuse on this budding rivalry, Adipietro and the Wesley Chapel girls golf team (7-0) finally had their moment against Mitchell.
Long considered the second-best golf team in Pasco County, the Wildcats halted the Mustangs' 76-match winning streak with a 189-197 win, and in the process turned an afternoon on the links into anything but a gentlemen's game.
'Ummm, I don't want to say anything mean, but I've beat them every year,' said Adipietro, who shot two-over 37 to lead all players. 'It's just our whole team came together and I'm so glad that we finally did that.'
The victory probably meant the most to Adipietro, a senior who was disqualified from last year's conference tournament after then-Mitchell player Emily Van Etten accused her of improperly marking her ball on the green throughout the round. Another playing partner concurred, and Adipietro, tied for the first at the time of the accusation, was removed from the standings.
'That was the biggest thing for T.J. I think, to get some reconciliation for that,' Wesley Chapel coach Scott Boyd said.
Senior Sam Friese, who battled an illness during the match, shot 45. Natalie Wells had a 51, and Rochelle Stephens, who routinely shoots in the 60s, carded a 56 in a round that both coaches said was key to the victory.
If there was a goal post off Heritage Springs' 18th hole, the Wesley Chapel girls probably would have torn it down and tried to carry it back home along State Road 54.
Accusations of 'rude remarks' were being made by the teams as they waited for the scores to come in. The atmosphere was so heated, Boyd became worried when he saw two of his players walking toward a Mitchell gathering.
'I just want to make sure that goes OK ... I think ... I hope,' he said, stopping his postmatch interview. 'I think they're being sweet.'
After the results became official, civility prevailed as both squads went their separate ways. But the loss was clearly tough to take for Mitchell (8-1), led by Megan Van Etten (41), Victoria Kinney (47), Kristin Pitts (53) and Rosie Quinones (56).
Mustangs coach Joe Castellano, who himself was 27-0 before Thursday's loss, downplayed the significance of the defeat, and the rivalry.
'I told the team 76 is a pretty darn good number. We'll start another streak on Tuesday,' he said. 'I knew it was going to be a great match. Every time we play these guys, it's a great match ... last three matches have been decided by less than 10 shots.
'I'll be honest, I don't think one win out of six tries for Wesley Chapel is much of a rivalry, but they're always our best competitor.'
Boyd couldn't disagree with those stats, but after Thursday, it's possible there could be even more tension the next time these teams get together: the Sunshine Athletic Conference meet the second week of October.
'Could it? Yes. It happens every time we come together,' he said. 'It's really unfortunate ... I wish it didn't happen like that, but at the same time, you take the good with the bad. We enjoy playing them, and I don't know if they enjoy playing us.'
Adipietro is confident the Wildcats will make it two in a row.
'I know we're going to win conference,' she said. 'I've been modest every year. It hasn't worked for me.'